# Is it appropriate to edit and remove religious salutations

An otherwise good question ended with the questioner thanking the community in a religious way. It just feels inappropriate in my mind despite the op obvious good intentions. Can a moderator remove? I found this so the question is a duplicate I think. I would close but I don't know how to.

https://meta.stackoverflow.com/q/351588

• This seems subjective; that is, you think it feels inappropriate while the OP clearly feels otherwise. In such situations I feel that the default should be to leave it as it is. May 22 '20 at 19:40
• Related: this question is asking about the same situation, but without the religious aspect. May 22 '20 at 19:42
• Perhaps but we are then faced with where do we draw the line?
– Karl
May 22 '20 at 19:51
• @Karl Do they offend you, do they offend math, do they offend anyone, so you're telling the Greeks that believed in Zeus, and Greek Mythology, and then the Indians that invented zero that believed in Hinduism and Jainism, and Buddhism your telling me the Chinese that believes. Let me know when your names on a theorem and people tell you that your religious hello, simulations is a damage to the community. You have two options take and it and accept it, or just walk away. We all can walk away.\ May 22 '20 at 21:04
• " Can a moderator remove? " What do you mean exactly? If you want us to do something you'd need to be a bit more specific. Raise a flag for example.
– quid Mod
May 22 '20 at 21:54
• math.stackexchange.com/q/3687083/18398 May 23 '20 at 3:57
• @Karl your proposed duplicate target is not from math.meta, but rather from the "main meta" site, so it can't be closed as a duplicate. Sometimes math.SE will deviate from the norms on the other SE sites anyway so your question is OK May 23 '20 at 12:36
• @CalvinKhor it's not (even) from the main meta. It's from the per site meta of SO; historically those were the same but that changed years ago.
– quid Mod
May 23 '20 at 14:27
• Somewhat related. In the context of our site I no longer associate Fiat lux with Genesis, but rather with enlightenment coming from solving a math problem. Consequently I am inclined to let that one stay. I guess some feel strongly that those are out of place, some others might even be offended. May 24 '20 at 6:05
• The motto of my current institution (a state university in the US, where we pretend to take separation of church and state quite seriously) is "Let there be light." This is incorporated into the seal of the university. While it is originally from the Bible and may have religious connotations in some contexts, the phrase seems to have been secularized. Many passages from the Bible have received similar treatment.
– Xander Henderson Mod
May 24 '20 at 17:28
• @XanderHenderson This SF-piece by Asimov may have played a large part in forming my impression. If you have not read the story, don't read the spoiler in WP. Although I may have spoilered it to an extent already :-( May 25 '20 at 8:17
• @JyrkiLahtonen Oh, man... I remember that story. I must have read that when I was in the fifth or sixth grade, in some anthology of Asimov's work (I went through a period of reading a lot of sf when I was that age). There is another story which I remember associating to Asimov's---maybe by Clarke?---which centered on a bunch of monks using a computer to list all of the names of god. The story ends with the lights blinking out.
– Xander Henderson Mod
May 25 '20 at 13:36
• @XanderHenderson That was probably 9 billion names of God by Clarke :-) May 25 '20 at 13:39
• @JyrkiLahtonen Yup! That's the one! Man... I haven't thought about either of those stories since the 80s. ;)
– Xander Henderson Mod
May 25 '20 at 13:42

Good evening!

I am of the opinion that social throat-clearing, salutations, and other little niceties are mostly inappropriate on Math SE. Questions should be to the point, and avoid chit-chat. The goal here is to have a repository of knowledge. The original authorship and social lubrication is irrelevant to this goal, hence these kinds of comments don't belong. However, I do not think that it is entirely appropriate to edit a question just to remove such comments. From my own practice:

• I do not edit questions just to remove greetings, closings, thanks, etc.

• I will remove such if I am editing for other reasons. If I am already editing a post, I will remove comments like "Thank you in advance!", "Dear sirs", "Sincerely," etc while making other edits. I would include in these deletions religious salutations, but the fact that they are religious in nature is irrelevant.

In short, don't edit the question just to remove the salutations, but if there are other more substantial edits which need to be made, I don't think that you cause harm by also removing the salutations.

Regards, Xander

P.S. I hope you found this useful. Thank you for reading!

• I am tempted to remove all the salutations in this answer lol May 23 '20 at 6:33
• @YuiToCheng ;)${}$
– Xander Henderson Mod
May 23 '20 at 14:11
• Good answer. +1 May 23 '20 at 17:02

As said already in general, including material not related to the subject matter of the post is discouraged. Even though, historically, this site was actually more lenient than other SE sites regarding this.

In that sense, removing salutations, signatures, and alike is in principle always alright. For example there is a script in place that auto-deletes "Hello" and a few other things at the start of a post.

That said, in practice there is a trade-off. It's likely not worth it to edit a post only to deleted a simple "Thanks in advance" at the end of the post, but it can be worth it to snip it if one edits the post for more substantial reasons.

Now, if a post ends. "Most esteemed members of this august community of mathematicians, I humbly submit this request for your consideration. I will be grateful until the end of my days for any input you will provide. Wishing you a most wonderful day, I rest sincerely yours, Some User," I'd argue that one should do something about this.

The same applies more or less for religiously colored language. In principle, everything that is non-essential can be removed. In practice I would not track down everything that could be perceived as religious, also as certain constructs, while in principle of religious origin, are at least to some just part of their normal speech. So much so that some might not even realize it.

However, if it starts to be very visible I think it is alright to remove it, as a consequence of the general principle that non-necessary material can be removed.

For the specific case mentioned, I would say that it qualifies as very visible.

• It might be worth it to mention that, in practice, editing to delete courtesies such as "Thank you in advance," can be problematic, in that each and every such edit bumps the edited post to the front page. So yes, there is a trade off: how distracting is the salutation/farewell vs. whether it is worth the bump of a post. When you mention trade off, you failed to mention how annoying it can be to users perusing the front page, older post after older post, popping up again just because someone was a stickler for editing out innocent salutations. I just wanted to make explicit the trade off May 23 '20 at 15:17
• One should certainly avoid doing numerous edits of this form at the same time, as one should generally avoid doing numerous edits at the same time. At the same time, we also should not overdo restrictions on editing just to avoid front-page-noise.
– quid Mod
May 23 '20 at 15:23
• Continued: In this sense, I think @Xander's answer is more to the point. If, on a rare occasion, a conclusion to a post is left, like the one you fabricated, or I'd agree in this specific case, I find it appropriate to edit it out, but as I said, your post seems to justify any edit whatsoever that edits out only: "Greetings" or "Thank you." But I will continue to reject any such suggested edit that does onlythat. May 23 '20 at 15:25
• (+1) especially for "... are at least to some just part of their normal speech. So much so that some might not even realize it", which I think some well-meaning people don't realize, and also don't realize that they don't realize $\ldots$ May 23 '20 at 17:51

I'm coming a little late to this question, but I was led here by a recent interaction with the user referred to by the OP. This user continues to include religious salutations in their posts, and has rolled back edits by multiple other users removing these religious salutations.

I totally agree with the answers by quid and Xander Henderson, but these answers focus on the removal of all salutations and other irrelevant material. I would like to make the case that religious salutations are a different matter, and that we should act more aggressively to remove them.

Here's my perspective: I am an athiest. In general, I have no problem with others practicing their religion or expressing their religious beliefs, as long as they do not unreasonably impinge on me. For example, the user referred to by the OP currently has religious iconography as their picture and a religious text as their "about me". I think this is totally fine - religion is obviously an important part of this user's identity, and they should be free to express this. But when it comes to religious salutations in posts, the user is speaking to the community and in particular to me. I do not appreciate being greeted (in person or on the internet) by "God bless" or "May our Lord Jesus Christ bless and keep you always. Amen." or etc.

Why? When someone says one of these things to me, it seems to me that there are two possibilities regarding their intent. First, they sincerely expect I will react positively. In this case, I understand that the person's intentions are good, but I still don't like it: an assumption is being made about me and my feelings toward religion, and I am very tired of people making such assumptions. In such a situation, I would of course politely inform the person that I do not wish to be addressed in this way. If the person persists, I have to assume the second possibility: the person is aware that I may not like this language and just doesn't care. In this case, their behavior is extremely rude.

In the case of the user in question, it has been made abundantly clear to them, by edits and comments, that their use of religious language is not appreciated by some members of the community, but they have persisted and indicated their refusal to edit (see the comments here). If they continue to roll back edits, I hope moderator action will be taken. I think a general policy against superfluous religious language in posts would be a positive thing, as it would streamline such action.

• +1. I think that unsolicitedly confronting others with religion in any non-religious setting is quite offensive and rude behavior. Sep 5 '20 at 19:52
• It seems incredible that my comments were removed. Can't I express what I expressed? Sep 6 '20 at 6:46
• @user759001 I agree that our comments should not have been deleted. Sep 6 '20 at 15:05
• This is very positive. I hope that the situation that describes the post is solved in the best way, and I add my best wishes for this person. Sep 6 '20 at 18:48
• The issue here, I feel, is that you are saying "I am offended by this" and explaining why. On the other hand, I am sure that they would be offended by having their greeting removed (and would therefore reedit it in, etc). So whose offense should we side with, and why? Trying to argue whose offense to support is a minefield; I feel that it is better to leave the religious aspect out of the discussion. Sep 7 '20 at 9:53

First, do no harm is a good place to start. If the OP believes in something and invokes that in their gratitude without harming anyone, leave it be. If your own beliefs are such that you are intolerant of others and/or their beliefs then there is potentially a problem for you personally to resolve.

If OPs beliefs are problematic and their gratitude amounts to hate speech for some group or minority then flag it for attention to a moderator and indicate the problem clearly. StackExchange has policies on all of these kinds of things, though they are sometimes controversial and caused much pain on many sides last year.

• I am not intolerant of people's beliefs I just don't think this is the forum. Anyway thanks for the answer even if disagree.
– Karl
May 22 '20 at 20:31

"I feel terrible mentioning it because I know you're only trying to be polite but could you remove the religious elements at the end? There are likely many faiths none should be given a platform" that is one of your comments in this site Mathematics Stack Exchange.

I don't understand the excerpt/part "There are likely many faiths none should be given a platform"

What do you mean exactly? For me it is difficult to discuss this post on Meta with you.

• I have already replied to this under your original comment. It simply means that as the community will undoubtedly have members with varied and perhaps opposing beliefs that the site should stick to maths. Once again I have not intended to offend anyone.
– Karl
May 25 '20 at 8:50
• I add here for the record the identificator of the question (resource for the comment) 3687083 asked 2 days ago on the main site Mathematics Stack Exchange. As I've said for me it is difficult to discuss this post on Meta with you @Karl May 25 '20 at 9:05
• All users, I add with all respect previous identificator and link to the comment. I hope that don't draw the attention of downvotes to these posts, that now I'm going to upvote (these downvoted in last two days). May 25 '20 at 9:14
• I'm honestly not sure what I can add to clarify things for you. The original post contained religious content. I asked politely for the op to remove for which they didn't which is entirely their choice. In this situationI I thought the correct course of action was to refer it to the community for clarification and I would have accepted any decision it made.
– Karl
May 25 '20 at 9:19
• Just to clarify I haven't downvoted your answer here or the linked question. I was originally interested in the linked question because the functions mentioned resembled the hyperbolic functions yet that wasn't something that was being noted and I was curious to know why.
– Karl
May 25 '20 at 9:32
• What clarification is possible for the excerpt/part of your comment "There are likely many faiths none should be given a platform"? As you see I have did not my interpretation in comments or in the body of my post in Meta @Karl . I add that my previous comment "All users,..." was not addressed to your person. I'm done the discussion here. May 25 '20 at 9:33
• @Karl "It simply means that as the community will undoubtedly have members with varied and perhaps opposing beliefs that the site should stick to maths." Are you suggesting that people of opposing beliefs will be offended by "opposing" religious salutations? May 25 '20 at 9:49
• Not necessarily just inappropriate for the site
– Karl
May 25 '20 at 9:54
• @Karl Then the fact that there are "many faiths" is irrelevant. Also, I do not think such a salutation counts as "a platform", if anything they are merely expressing what is important to them. I think calling it a "platform" or linking it to "free speech" (as the answerer to your above-linked comment did) is making this situation out to be more explosive than it actually is. I also do not see why it is any different to a regular salutation, if no one is offended. May 25 '20 at 10:04
• I simply asked the moderator to decide what was appropriate for the site.
– Karl
May 25 '20 at 10:18
• @user1729 the specific case, I am not sure you saw it, is pretty long. I find it way exaggerated to include it. I say this as somebody who is very used to religious salutations (even coming from the same faith-tradtion, and also other traditions).
– quid Mod
May 25 '20 at 16:40
• @quid Yes, I saw it and I agree that it was too long; but my comments were trying to not focus on specifics. My main thought, which I don't think I expressed clearly but is what I was getting at, is that the "religious" aspect is not particularly relevant. Either we ban all (long) salutations, or none. May 25 '20 at 16:49
• @user1729 I agree that it is independent of subject (see my answer). That said, I do understand why Karl said what they said. It did feel like somebody trying to use the site as a platform. There may be users that object to this, yet that would be fine with something less potentially divisive. Also here religion specifically is tangential. If somebody would recite something praising socialism, I would also qualify it as potentially divisive. But again to me this is not the first reason why it should be removed, but it is still a valid point.
– quid Mod
May 25 '20 at 17:03
• @user1729 there were explicit complaints and the inclusion was not a singular event (That said, I tend to agree that not rarely objections to religious reference come more from non-religious persons than from those of other religious believes. But that's somewhat orthogonal already.)
– quid Mod
May 25 '20 at 17:25
• @user759001 I am not sure that I understand you point. The author wrote '[...] I will not remove it. It is very good to try to propagate the Faith in all contexts of life.' That seems pretty clear. And "the Faith" is arguably divisive as it singles out one.
– quid Mod
May 25 '20 at 17:31